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Therapeutic jurisprudence and responsivity: Finding the will and the way in offender rehabilitation

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Correctional systems worldwide are currently undergoing a shift towards rehabilitation. Underpinning rehabilitation are the principles of risk, need, and responsivity. Responsivity includes internal responsivity (offender characteristics) and external responsivity (staff and setting characteristics). The responsivity principle has been neglected in the literature. While contemporary psychological theories of offender rehabilitation address internal responsivity, they do not address external responsivity, particularly in relation to the impact of the law. Therapeutic jurisprudence as a legal theory provides the opportunity to complement psychological theory and to address responsivity in offender rehabilitation. Therapeutic jurisprudence utilizes psychological knowledge to determine ways in which the law can enhance individual well-being. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate a psycholegal approach to offender rehabilitation. Psychological approaches can be applied to motivate offenders and provide them with the opportunity to make informed decisions about participation in rehabilitation programmes. However, this approach will not succeed without harnessing correctional staff as legal actors and potential therapeutic agents. A cognitive--behavioural model of an organizational culture change towards rehabilitation is proposed. In this endeavour "the will and the way" in both offenders and staff can be harnessed to maximize the therapeutic effects of the law.
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Keywords: Offender rehabilitation; good lives model; motivational interviewing; organizational change; therapeutic jurisprudence

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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